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MJF Announces 2016 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra Members

All-star big band consists of 21 high school musicians

The Monterey Jazz Festival has announced the members of its 2016 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, an all-star big band consisting of 21 high school musicians from six states and two nations, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, New York, Texas and Israel.

The orchestra, which includes three returning members-trombonists Jasim Perales (Berkeley High School; Berkeley, Calif.) and Ethan Santos (Buchanan High School; Clovis, Calif.); and trumpeter Carlos Ramos (Downey High School; Downey, Calif.)-will rehearse in Monterey prior to a two-week tour of Japan, playing a show in Carmel, Calif., at the Folktale Winery on July 22. In Japan, the orchestra will perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival in Noto on July 30; the Tokyo TUC Jazz Club on Aug. 3; and the Tomisato Jazz Festival on Aug. 5. More shows and cultural exchange programs will take place at the Yanagi Gakuen and Teikyo high schools.

Back in the States, the orchestra will perform at the 10th Jazz Legends Gala at the Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, Calif., on Sept. 15, honoring Quincy Jones; that same day, they’ll perform at the 26th annual free noontime “Concert for Kids” at the Monterey County Fairgrounds at the Garden Stage. On Sept. 18, the orchestra will appear with 2016 Artist-in-Residence Terri Lyne Carrington on the Jimmy Lyons main stage for their traditional Sunday appearance at the 59th Monterey Jazz Festival.

Monterey Jazz Festival invests over $500,000 annually in jazz education, including jazz clinics in schools, a summer jazz camp and the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, which was created in 1971. Members are selected through an application and audition process during the Next Generation Jazz Festival each spring. Former orchestra members include pianists Benny Green and Patrice Rushen; bassist Larry Grenadier; drummer Chad Wackerman; saxophonists Joshua Redman, Donny McCaslin, Eric Marienthal, Ted Nash, Mark Turner and Dave Koz; trombonist Andy Martin; and trumpeters Gilbert Castellanos and Ambrose Akinmusire; and big-band leader Gordon Goodwin.

Tickets for the 59th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival, Sept. 16-18, are available at or by calling 888-248-6499.

To read the biographies of the 2016 Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, click here.

A full personnel list for the 2016 NGJO can be found below:

Director: Mr. Paul Contos


Matt Richards, alto/Las Lomas High School, Walnut Creek, CA

Aviv Blum, alto/Sudbury Democratic School, Jerusalem, Israel

Alex Yuwen, tenor/Hamilton High School, Chandler, AZ

Michael Schwartz, tenor/Redwood High School, Larkspur, CA

Adam Band, baritone/Bullard High School, Fresno, CA


Ian Kaufman/Mt. Carmel High School, San Diego, CA

Jasim Perales/Berkeley High School, Berkeley, CA

Ethan Santos/Buchanan High School, Fresno, CA

Jack Kotze/Lincoln-Way North High School, Frankfort, IL

Joshua Hernandez (bass)/J. M. Hanks High School, El Paso, TX


Carlos Ramos (lead)/Downey High School, Downey, CA

Erik Ondrejko (asst. lead)/Denver School of the Arts, Denver, CO

Geoff Gallante/West Potomac High School, Alexandria, VA

Evan Abounassar/Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Los Angeles, CA

Akili Bradley/California Virtual Academies, Seaside, CA


Luca Mendoza, piano/Crossroads School, Santa Monica, CA

Isaac de Vera, guitar/Monterey High School, Monterey, CA

Max Schwartz, bass/Berkeley High School, Berkeley, CA

Julius Rodriguez, drums/The Masters School, White Plains, NY

Benjamin Ring, drums/Piedmont High School, Piedmont, CA

Abigail Berry, vocals/Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Los Angeles, CA

Originally Published